Loose Nukes Because every debate can be improved with a little highly-enriched uranium.


5 insane arguments that actually have evidence

Sometimes, you want to win. Other times, you just want to make the other team go "...wah?"

In honor of it not being April Fool's Day (hey, why not?), here are five of the weirdest arguments that there's actually legitimate evidence for. Have fun and debate responsibly.

Creating laws that can't be repealed is totally OK

"Legislative entrenchment" refers to creating a law with special provisions that prevent future legislatures from modifying it. In other words, legislative entrenchment bypasses democracy to create a law that can never be repealed. Everyone agrees that this is unconstitutional, undemocratic, and generally a Bad Thing.

Everyone, apparently, except Posner and Vermeule, two law professors at the University of Chicago. In 2002, the pair wrote a somewhat inexplicable article arguing that legislative entrenchment was totally OK:

Prof. Eric A. Posner (professor of law at the University of Chicago) and Prof. Adrian Vermeule (professor of law at the University of Chicago), April 10, 2002, Yale Law Journal, "Legislative Entrenchment: A Reappraisal", Vol. 111, http://www. yalelawjournal.org/images/pdfs/192.pdf (page 1666)

"Our claim is that the rule barring legislative entrenchment should be discarded; legislatures should be allowed to bind their successors, subject to any independent constitutional limits in force. The rule has no deep justification in constitutional text and structure, political norms of representation and deliberation, efficiency, or any other source. There just is no rationale to be found; the academics have been on a fruitless quest. Entrenchment is no more objectionable in terms of constitutional, political, or economic theory than are sunset clauses, conditional legislation and delegation, the creation, modification, and abolition of administrative agencies, or any of the myriad of other policy instruments that legislatures use to shape the legal and institutional environment of future legislation."

Pictured: Nietzche's philosophy. (Fun game: Go through Nietzche's works and replace every occurence of the word "suffering" with the words "the flying spaghetti monster". It actually makes a lot more sense than the original.)

Suffering is not an impact

If you think that's nuts, you apparently haven't read enough 19th-century German philosophers yet. This particular argument comes from Friedrich Nietzsche.

Nietzsche's works are extremely dense, to the point where there is an entire peer-reviewed journal dedicated to trying to figure out what the Heidegger he's actually trying to say. This, combined with the fact that he's dead and therefore has no lawyers, makes his works fertile ground for kritiks - you can pretty much claim he meant anything you want. For instance, that "suffering" was actually a codeword for the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

One of Nietzche's oft-quoted ideas was that suffering is an essential part of human existence, and that the only way to find meaning in life is to accept fate and recognize pain for what it is. The correct reaction to this is to blink slowly and say "well, that's stupid." The debater's reaction is to this is to jump up and down and gleefully shout "OOH OOH CUT A CARD ON THAT!"

Friedrich Nietzsche (19th century German philosopher), 1886, "Beyond Good and Evil: prelude to a philosophy of the future", No. 225, http://books.google.com/books?id=lPHqR0kAQnsC

"You want, if possible--and there is not a more foolish "if possible" --TO DO AWAY WITH SUFFERING; and we?--it really seems that WE would rather have it increased and made worse than it has ever been! Well-being, as you understand it--is certainly not a goal; it seems to us an END; a condition which at once renders man ludicrous and contemptible--and makes his destruction DESIRABLE! The discipline of suffering, of GREAT suffering--know ye not that it is only THIS discipline that has produced all the elevations of humanity hitherto? The tension of soul in misfortune which communicates to it its energy, its shuddering in view of rack and ruin, its inventiveness and bravery in undergoing, enduring, interpreting, and exploiting misfortune, and whatever depth, mystery, disguise, spirit, artifice, or greatness has been bestowed upon the soul--has it not been bestowed through suffering, through the discipline of great suffering?"

Nuclear war won't happen - aliens will intervene

You know nuclear war impacts, where every disadvantage eventually results in nuclear war? Right. Well, that won't happen, because aliens will intervene to stop it.

This is actually a very serious issue among the "UFOlogy" community, who claim they have witness testimony from over 120 former military personnel regarding alien intervention at nuclear weapons sites. UFOs have reportedly conducted surveillance, shut down nuclear launch systems, and even met with key military commanders.

One theory claims that the use of nuclear weapons interferes with the extraterrestrial's navigational abilities. Another is that the aliens are simply trying to prevent us from blowing ourselves up. At any rate, don't worry about nuclear war - the aliens won't stand for it!

Michael E. Salla (PhD in government from the University of Queensland, founder of the Exopolitics Institute), August 12, 2006, Exopolitics Research Study #11, "'Divine Strake' vs. 'Divine Strike' - Did Extraterrestrials Deter the Pentagon from a Preemptive Nuclear War Against Iran?", http://www.exopolitics.org/Study-Paper-11.htm

"Historical evidence supporting a possible extraterrestrial divine strike to prevent a preemptive nuclear war can be found in the publicly verified relationship between nuclear weapons testing and UFO sightings, extraterrestrial interference in the storage of nuclear weapons, and the alleged destruction of nuclear weapons by extraterrestrials. If extraterrestrials have acted in the past to interfere with or destroy nuclear weapons, it can be assumed that they would not have remained idle if a nuclear preemptive war against Iran affected their vital interests on Earth, and/or their ability to navigate in the Earth's vicinity."

'Experts' are worse than dart-throwing monkeys - just shut up

Popularly known in NFL circles as the "monkeys throwing darts" argument. Believe it or not, this is actually a legitimate and useful point; a number of interesting studies have been done on the accuracy of expert forecasters, with generally dismal results.

This particular quote comes from a fascinating summary of Philip Tetlock's equally fascinating book, "Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?" The whole article is worth a read if you've got time.

Prof. Louis Menand (PhD in English, professor of English and American Literature and language at Harvard, recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for History for his book "The Metaphysical Club"), December 5, 2005, The New Yorker, "Everybody’s An Expert", http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/12/05/051205crbo_books1?currentPage=1

"Tetlock is a psychologist-he teaches at Berkeley-and his conclusions are based on a long-term study that he began twenty years ago. He picked two hundred and eighty-four people who made their living "commenting or offering advice on political and economic trends," and he started asking them to assess the probability that various things would or would not come to pass, both in the areas of the world in which they specialized and in areas about which they were not expert.

[later, in the same context:]

The results were unimpressive. On the first scale, the experts performed worse than they would have if they had simply assigned an equal probability to all three outcomes-if they had given each possible future a thirty-three-per-cent chance of occurring. Human beings who spend their lives studying the state of the world, in other words, are poorer forecasters than dart-throwing monkeys, who would have distributed their picks evenly over the three choices."

Delaying space colonization costs 100 trillion lives per second

Math. Just in case you ever needed a reason not to delay space colonization.

Prof. Nick Bostrom (PhD, professor of philosophy at the University of Oxford, director of the Future of Humanity Institute), 2003, Utilitas, "Astronomical Waste: The Opportunity Cost of Delayed Technological Development", Vol. 15, No. 3, http://www. nickbostrom.com/astronomical/waste.html

"Suppose that about 10^10 biological humans could be sustained around an average star. Then the Virgo Supercluster could contain 10^23 biological humans. This corresponds to a loss of potential equal to about 10^14 potential human lives per second of delayed colonization. What matters for present purposes is not the exact numbers but the fact that they are huge. Even with the most conservative estimate, assuming a biological implementation of all persons, the potential for one hundred trillion potential human beings is lost for every second of postponement of colonization of our supercluster."

Note: Due to my very busy schedule right now, I probably won't be able to post every week. In the meantime, check out The COGblog, where the COG 2011 editorial team is posting a free throw-together 1AC and backup every Saturday leading up to release. Enjoy!

Comments (3) Trackbacks (1)
  1. Someone ran the “monkey throwing darts” arg against my partner and i in a round recently. I got up in CX and asked “What’s your source?” They answered with his Phd credentials, so I responded “So, he’s an expert, right?”. They answered yes. The next question was “Your source is an expert, saying experts can’t be trusted?”. To which they responded with the standard, “not exactly, he’s basing it off of a study where he proved that experts are bad at predicting.” I had waaay to much fun with that in my 2AC 🙂 Granted, the way the Neg ran the argument sorta helped, but it was still fun.

  2. This is so unbelievably fabulous. I can’t WAIT to run some of these at a tournament next week 🙂 Love it!

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